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Monitor Audio ASB-2 review

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Awards

  • Editors choice

1 of 10

Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2
  • Monitor Audio ASB-2

Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Pros

  • Sublime sound quality
  • Luxury design
  • AirPlay support

Cons

  • Relatively expensive
  • Tricky PC Wi-Fi setup
  • No Bluetooth

Key Features

  • 160W power output
  • AirPlay, DLNA and uPnP streaming
  • C-CAM drivers
  • 3D sound processing
  • Three HDMI inputs
  • Manufacturer: Monitor Audio
  • Review Price: £999.00

What is the Monitor Audio ASB-2?

Monitor Audio’s first ever soundbar is designed to bring audiophile sound quality into your living room without eating up precious space.

Unsurprisingly, it’s a high-end affair that hits the wallet harder than most soundbars on the market. That puts it in the same category as the sumptuous B&W Panorama 2 (which is still a good £650 more expensive) and the Libratone Lounge.

But it’s expensive for a reason – not only does it boast a jaw-dropping design that puts most soundbars to shame but it’s also equipped with features rarely found on budget models, such as AirPlay and multiple HDMI inputs. So if money is no object and you want a speaker system that minimises clutter, then the ASB-2 could be right up your street.

SEE ALSO: Best soundbars round-up

Monitor Audio ASB-2Monitor Audio ASB-2 – Design

The ASB-2’s decadent build quality is apparent the moment you liberate it from the box. It’s a substantial soundbar, weighing in at a hefty 11kg and built into a sturdy mineral-filled polymer cabinet. It’s bulkier and more imposing than most soundbars, with a curvy shape designed to eliminate audio colouration, but it’s so beautifully styled that you probably won’t care.

The front is covered in a classy black cloth, while mirrored panels at both ends providing a touch of glamour. There’s no LED display, just a bar of light that changes colour to indicate which source is connected. Along the top is a row of buttons for up-close control, allowing you to adjust volume, select inputs and pair devices.

The ASB-2 can be mounted on the wall if you buy Monitor Audio’s optional bracket (£30), reassuringly described as ‘sturdy’ in the blurb. Alternatively you can rest it on a tabletop using the supplied silicon rubber stand.

Monitor Audio ASB-2Monitor Audio ASB-2 – Connections

On the back is a generous array of sockets. Of greatest interest are the three HDMI inputs, ideal if you want to channel a Sky box, Blu-ray deck and games console through the speakers.

They all pass through 3D signals, while the v1.4 output supports the convenient Audio Return Channel feature, effectively bumping up the HDMI input count to four.

For all other audio sources there are two digital inputs (optical and coaxial), analogue RCA jacks and a 3.5mm minijack input. A subwoofer output is provided should the ASB-2’s own bass drivers not quite hit the spot, while a USB port is provided for firmware updates and AirPlay setup.

Monitor Audio ASB-2 – Features

By far the sexiest feature on the spec sheet is AirPlay, allowing you to easily stream music from iOS devices or PCs running iTunes. AirPlay Direct support means you don’t even have to do it through your home network. The ASB-2 will also play music from DLNA and uPnP-compatible devices, but it’s a shame there’s no Bluetooth as that would have completed a pretty formidable wireless line-up.

Monitor Audio ASB-2

The driver array comprises two 140mm C-CAM (ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium) subwoofers, a pair of 100mm C-CAM midrange drivers and two 25mm Gold Dome C-CAM tweeters – all driven by five discrete power amp stages that muster 160W in total (a 60W amp for the subs, 35W amps for each midrange driver and 15W amps for the tweeters). The optimum frequencies are delivered to each driver using custom-tuned DSP control.

Monitor Audio’s proprietary 3D sound processing strives for an enveloping soundstage ‘irrespective of the environment’ using Head Related Transfer Function technology and crosstalk cancellation.

There’s no HD audio decoding or even Dolby Digital/DTS support, but it’s no problem as the ASB-2 accepts 5.1 and 7.1-channel linear PCM.

S_Porter

May 23, 2014, 1:55 pm

I have sadly just returned my ASB-2 to my retailer. When I decided to buy a sound bar I reviewed and sound tested in the shop a number including the Sonos and Yamaha. The ASB-2 sound was fantastic across the dynamic range and head and shoulders above the others. However when setting it up in your home and plugging it into you devices things start to go wrong.
In theory all those HDMI and other ports give you so many options, in practice to make them work however, is a nightmare. The clumsy visual display only works when it is set HDMI subset HDMI 1 and not with any other HDMI, optical input or any other configuration for that matter. You therefore have to rely on a series of flashing coloured lights to work out which input the ASB-2 is set to. To add to the confusion HDMI and Optial are the same colour.
White is HDMI and as there are four HDMI options you have to count the number of flashes to work out which setting you want.
The remote is minimalist, too minimalist for its own good. to change source type you have to press the source button down for a second or so and it will change through each main source type, miss It, and you have to start again. Once you have selected the main source you then have to press the button again this time for a short period to scroll through each sub source type. Miss it and you start again. press it too long and its changed main source type again
Your still with me?
I spent my 20 minutes talking my wife and family through the options and button pressing just so they could watch TV. Why because it does not always default to TV when its switched on. Your smart TV remotes may change the volume but not the source, so keep them nearby.
The final straw is that every twenty minutes or so it switches automatically to airplay and kills the sound. you then have to reset, switch to the source you want. Audio Monitor know about this fault but have admitted to me they have not found a solution
.
This is a deeply flawed product whilst it sounds great and spec has all these extra options such as airplay for the £1,000 it costs it does not work properly. The next model needs a proper visual display on the machine, a proper remote with buttons for each source and be more intuitive to the devices that are plugged into it, not forgetting they need to fix the problem with airplay.
Unlike the Trusted Review I give this product 2 stars and now I am off to collect a Sonos sound bar and sub !!

sheizi

September 8, 2014, 5:52 pm

Hi all

I wanted to know which of the following are better

Monitor asb2
B&W Panaromoma 2

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